As the UK population ages, and demand for health care continues to exceed supply, NHS managers need to be able to make the most out of scarce resources.
University of Hertfordshire researchers Dr Eren Demir and Dr Mohamed Lebcir are working with the NHS to address this need by developing computer-based decision-support tools to help NHS managers and clinicians make better decisions in key areas of care.
Their computer modelling maps the patient’s current, often complicated, journey through different stages of care. The model calculates how many staff are needed at each stage, cost of treatment and types of resources needed. NHS staff can then use the model to find more efficient and effective ways of progressing patients through services.
Applying modelling techniques to healthcare management, the Hertfordshire Business School researchers have participated in many consultancy and research projects with the NHS to help decision-making. These have included forecasting length of stay and cost of long-term care for elderly people; capacity planning; redesigning services to improve clinical outcomes; and data mining to capture hidden patterns.
Model developed at Herts helped one hospital improve care and cut costs by 10% when treating patients with Parkinson's Disease.
Successful impacts include a model developed for one UK NHS hospital which showed that shifting more Parkinson’s Disease patients to community services cut down hospital visits, provided services closer to home and saved the NHS 10% on overall costs. The charity Parkinson’s UK contacted the Herts researchers to use their results in supporting their case for more Parkinson’s Disease nurses and doctors.
In a collaboration with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Demir developed a simulation of its Ophthalmology department. The simulation model was tested based on increasing the number of eye injections given to patients, known as the Treat and Extend regimen, which is associated with better outcomes for patients. The model showed how to increase injections without using any more resources.
The models have proved so successful that Dr Demir and Dr Lebcir’s collaborative work with the NHS continues to grow, engaging with consultants, service managers, and directors of finance, strategy and planning in the NHS.